A new travel advisory issued by Thailand’s government has been criticised by critics as being overly harsh and a step backwards from the previous version.
Thailand’s Department of Tourism issued a travel warning in July advising travellers to avoid travel to and from the city of Mandalay, and its western neighbour and the nearby border region of Chiang Mai.
However, in a statement released on Thursday, the Department of tourism said it had revised its travel advice to add “a warning against the possible effects of the extreme weather in Thailand” and the presence of wildlife in areas such as the Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai mountains.
“The revised travel advice clarifies that extreme weather events are not restricted to Thailand, and that it is possible to travel to areas where the weather conditions are favourable for animals, but it should be noted that the risks of exposure to wildlife are greater,” the department said.
Thai tourism officials had previously been criticised for not providing adequate warnings and not providing the same information to travellers, especially those travelling in the region, as it was not clear whether the warnings would affect travellers’ travel plans.
Thammasat University professor of animal sciences Chitrapat Sathyaya, who co-authored the revised advice, told New Scientist that the warning was “extremely overbroad” and “very vague”.
“The government’s own travel advisory is quite clear,” he said.
“It should be saying if you are in the city, go to the centre of town, and if you’re in the mountains go to Chiang Mae, but not going to Mandalay or Chiang Tau.”
The revised warning said “you can safely walk in the forest and take your dog for walks in the parks” and said the presence “of animals is less likely in the forests” than in the cities.
“If you want to go to places in the Chiwok region, go there,” the new travel advice said.
However, Chitropat Sathyaaya, a former Thai government adviser who now teaches at the University of Minnesota, told the BBC that the government should have done more to clarify its warnings and inform travellers.
“In the past, we were given a list of areas to go.
Now we have to do some work to figure out what those areas are, and how we are going to protect them,” he told the programme.”
We have to make sure that we are giving them a fair warning so that they can make their decisions.”
Travel restrictions in ThailandThe government said in its updated travel advisory that people visiting the city Mandalay should “consider travelling to a different area”.
“In this area, you should not cross paths with animals and you should keep pets indoors in the vehicle, or at least not inside the vehicle,” the travel advisory said.
In the neighbouring province of Chikung, the ministry of tourism told travellers in a news release that “people should avoid the area where wildlife exists, and consider avoiding areas that have the highest wildlife density.”
However, wildlife experts said there were concerns about the level of wildlife activity in Chiang Tay, which includes the city and the surrounding mountains.
Thanar Padmanabhan, an animal ecologist at the Wildlife Conservation Society, told Al Jazeera that “this kind of message is not enough to protect the animals”.
“They should have said if there is a chance of being injured or killed, they should consider that before making any decision to go into the mountains, or in any other part of the country,” he added.
“That’s the kind of warning that is necessary to protect animals and to warn people about the risks.”
This kind of advisory is extremely broad.
It does not go far enough.
“Thailand is currently suffering through its third consecutive winter in a row, and many areas in the country are experiencing record heat.
The temperature across Thailand on Thursday hit 41.6 degrees Celsius, which is nearly 50 degrees above the previous record low of 31.9 degrees on July 13.
On Friday, the government reported that temperatures in the central and southern provinces were record highs.